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Idiopathic muscle necrosis in the Norway lobster, Nephrops norvegicus (L.): aetiology, pathology and progression to bacteraemia

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The pathology and progression of idiopathic muscle necrosis (IMN) in Nephrops norvegicus and possible aetiologies have been investigated. Trawl capture, aerial exposure and handling initiate IMN, and the condition can be induced through periods of aerial exposure alone, in the absence of trawling. Within 24–48 h after trawl capture IMN progresses to a multi-species bacterial septicaemia, with moribund animals exhibiting clinical signs. The aetiology of this condition has been examined using molecular (16S rRNA gene sequencing) and biochemical (standard taxonomic assays, BiologTM) criteria to characterize bacterial isolates from moribund and healthy animals. Histopathology of the IMN phase reveals a loss of sarcomeric structure with necrotic lesions containing pyknotic nuclei, fragments of myofibrils and connective tissue elements. In the bacterial phase there is extensive loss of abdominal muscle structure, and the presence of rod-shaped Gram-negative bacteria in the degrading tissues. The results demonstrate that the IMN condition is connected to stressful conditions imposed on N.┬ánorvegicus, but involves no pathogenic agents. This is followed by an opportunistic bacterial infection that causes further tissue spoilage. It is believed that the primary cause of both IMN and bacteraemia is imposed stress, but they are expressed in different time courses.

Keywords: bacteraemia; crustacean; disease; idiopathic; muscle; necrosis

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1:  Institute of Biomedical and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK 2:  Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), Weymouth, Dorset, UK 3:  University Marine Biological Station Millport, Isle of Cumbrae, Millport, UK

Publication date: May 1, 2007

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